LISD’s project on Afghanistan and the Region is a multi-year, multi-phase initiative that began in May 2001 –before September 11, 2001 – after Wolfgang Danspeckgruber had returned from Pakistan at the same time when the Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed. The project focuses on creating peace and stability for the individual man, woman and child – by, for and with the Afghans and Afghanistan. It focuses on state, security, and capacity building in Afghanistan from domestic, regional, and geopolitical perspectives. The project is funded in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The project is directed by Wolfgang Danspeckgruber.
Building upon its previous Carnegie Corporation-supported work on Afghanistan and the region, LISD’s current project work on Afghanistan and the region focuses on analysis and policy-related research on economic development and civilian capacity building in Afghanistan, and constructive regional relationships between Afghanistan and its regional neighbors – especially Iran and the Central Asian states – as pillars of security as Afghanistan and the wider macro region adapt to the ongoing exit of international forces and related support structures. Project work focused specifically on issues related to political economy, particularly at the local and provincial levels, infrastructure development and natural resources exploration and utilization, and broader strategic factors impacting domestic and regional security. These focus areas will be considered from domestic, regional, and larger geopolitical perspectives, and research will be demand-driven based on input from regional actors participating in the project, findings from research trips to the region, and on-the-ground developments in Afghanistan, Iran, and the MENA region.
Phase I of LISD’s Afghanistan project work built on spring 2001 research on self-governance and security in South Asia and an off-the-record meeting with Afghan leaders on the future of their country held at Princeton University two months after 9/11. This phase of the Afghanistan project focused on state building and security as the international community worked to implement the provisions of the December 2001 Bonn Agreement.
In 2006, LISD launched Phase II of the Institute’s Afghanistan project work, focusing on Afghanistan’s development from a regional perspective as the country moved out of immediate post-conflict transition toward a more politically and economically secure and viable state among its neighbors.
Phase III of LISD’s Afghanistan project work began in 2008 and focused on the key issue areas of governmental, security, and police reform; rule of law and governance; economy, infrastructure, and international assistance/donor policy; and the creation of a viable regional compact.
Phase IV began in 2010, focusing on analysis and best practices to create stability in Afghanistan and facilitate Afghan buy-in, empowerment, and civilian capacity building together with Afghan experts, practitioners, and representatives as the country prepared for and adapted to the drawdown of US and international military forces. This phase of the project focused on reconciliation with insurgents and the Taliban; sustainable job and income creation, including special issues related to youth and widows; capacity building and education; Afghan security preparations for the serious reduction of U.S. and allied military presence; and ways to facilitate positive relations among countries in the region. It also assisted in preparation of Bonn II.
Phase V began in 2012 and focused on analysis and policy-related research on economic development and civilian capacity building in Afghanistan, and constructive regional relationships between Afghanistan and its regional neighbors.
Phase VI began in 2014 and focused on analyzing, explaining and developing policy formulation as a response to interconnected issues concerning security dimensions, politics, socio-religious matters, trade, energy and infrastructure in the geographical area spanning from the Hindukush westwards towards the Suez Canal and from the Persian Gulf to the Caucasus Mountains – covering space as in the ancient empire of Alexander the Great.
The current phase, Phase VII focuses on building a geopolitical mapping and data compendium and has been widened to work on innovative ways to bring peace and stability and find means of sustainable development for the war torn society.